Submitted by Rene Carroll, Parkersville Events volunteer

Camas and Washougal history will be celebrated and shared at the second annual Parkersville Day, on Saturday, June 3, 2023, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Parker’s Landing Historical Park in Washougal, located at the Camas-Washougal Port Marina.

Parkersville Day harkens back to the olden days. In May of 1879, a Parkersville event advertised as a “Grand Excursion & Picnic at Catalpha Grove on the beautiful steamer City of Quincy” took place in Parkersville. The activities included swings run by horsepower, an aerial trapeze performance, fat men’s race, wheelbarrow races, croquet grounds, sack race, and greased pig race – all with prizes. There was a large dance floor with a fine brass band playing.

The Vancouver Independent reported on July 8, 1880, that “More than 1,000 people were present at Catalpha Grove at the celebration on Monday, and the festivities did not close until a very late hour.” 

Just like the event in 1879, the annual Parkersville Day offers brass bands, croquet and wheelbarrow races plus Corn Hole (bean bag toss) and Quoits (ring toss) – games played in the late 1800s. Scout Troop 562 will be running the event games with the help of volunteers from Lions, Rotary, Journey Church, and Jeff Carlson from the Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee to the Port. Winners of all ages will receive their choice of historic candy prizes or an event souvenir sticker. Tootsies or Salt Water Taffy – both started in the 1800s – will be the candy choice for game winners. In 1896, Austrian immigrant Leo Hirshfield started the Tootsie candy in a small New York City shop. He wanted an economical chocolate candy that didn’t melt easily in the heat as an alternative to traditional chocolates. He named the candy his daughter’s nickname, Clara “Tootsie” Hirshfield.

When David Bradley’s shop flooded during a major storm in 1883, the salty Atlantic Ocean soaked his taffy. Mr. Bradley jokingly offered a customer “salt water taffy.” Joseph Fralinger popularized taffy in 1886 by boxing it and selling it as an Atlantic City souvenir. Fralinger’s first major competitor, Enoch James, refined the recipe, making it less sticky and easier to unwrap. James also cut the candy into bite-sized pieces and is credited with mechanizing the “pulling” process.

Parkersville Day introduces the community to the Chinook Indian Nation, Clark County Historical Museum, Two Rivers Heritage Museum, Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee to the Port, Parkersville Heritage Foundation, Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington, Whiskey Flats Brass Band, WSU, Washougal High School Band, and an art contest organized by Washougal School District Art Specialist Teacher, Alice Yang, and sponsored by the Washougal Arts & Cultural Association (WACA). 

Alice Yang, Washougal Art Teacher at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School and Canyon Creek Middle School was recognized with two Smart/Maher Teacher of the Year awards by VFW Post 4278 and VFW District 6 at an assembly on January 17, 2023. She is one of two teachers in Southwest Washington this year honored for her civic engagement and patriotism. She was recognized for being concerned about the younger generation and for making sure that they follow their dreams. Her students erupted in applause and were energized by seeing their teacher honored. Superintendent Mary Templeton is quoted as saying, “The sense of community that Alice Yang builds in her classroom is reflected in moments like this. Yang exemplifies Washougal School District’s mission to know, nurture, and challenge all students to rise.”

On June 3, 2023, start your family fun from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., celebrating National Trails Day at the Children’s Natural Play area in Washougal Waterfront Park. Then hop across the Best Western and Port Marina parking lots to Parkersville Day from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. to enjoy Chinookan history, music and dance, play free family-friendly games, eat ice cream, listen to music and story tellers that bring local history back to life, view Washougal schools art based on a Chinook theme of longhouses, dugout canoes, salmon, baskets, and camas bulbs, see local museum displays, take a WSU tour of the park trees, and meet park supporters.

For more event information, email or follow them on Facebook.

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